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“Fiction Essentials” Class Package

March 11, 2023 10:00 AM - April 22, 2023 1:00 PM CST

$236.00 – $476.00

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$236 for members

$476 for nonmembers

There are craft elements every fiction writer – whether you’re writing novels or short stories – needs to hone in order to write compelling and satisfying narratives.

This class package aims to help all fiction writers learn the foundational skills to bring any story to life. These four classes will take you through the basics of fiction, the importance of plot and conflict, how to develop characters, all the way to writing endings that bring your stories full circle.

If you’re ready to elevate your fiction writing, this class package is for you. In addition, everyone who purchases the package will be invited to an exclusive class package meet-up, a great opportunity to connect with fellow writers as you enjoy this shared experience.

Each class can be purchased individually by clicking on the class title.

Can’t make it to every class? No worries! All registrants will have access to the class recordings for the duration of the package, plus an additional month.

Diane Zinna headshot“Foundations of Fiction: 10 Lessons for Elevating Your Writing” with Diane Zinna

Saturday, March 11, 2023, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CST

What are ten things you can start doing today to make your writing come alive on the page?

In this fast-paced, three-hour class, instructor Dianne Zinna will provide students with short lessons on what writers can start doing today to elevate their fiction writing. The lessons include foundations of fiction you may have missed, tips for captivating openers, ways to navigate the “mushy middle” of any story, and ideas for meaningful endings. This class will feature several exercises as well as a takeaway prompt that can be applied to the book or short story you are ready to write or finish.

Diane Zinna is the author of THE ALL-NIGHT SUN (Random House, 2020) which was longlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Cabell First Novelist Award. Her craft book, LETTING GRIEF SPEAK, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press. She received her MFA from the University of Florida and was the longtime membership director for AWP, The Association of Writers & Writing Programs. There, she created the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, helping to match more than six hundred writers over twelve seasons. She was most recently the Darden Professor of Creative Writing at Old Dominion University, and she is the creator of Grief Writing Sundays, a popular writing class on telling difficult stories that has met every week since the start of the pandemic. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming at Electric Literature, LiteraryHub, Brevity, Monkeybicycle, and Eat, Darling, Eat. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband, daughter, and doodle.


“Plot Generator: Story-Worthy Problems and Situations that Drive Your Fiction” with Chaitali Sen

Saturday, March 18, 2023, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT

When you start out writing a work of fiction, you might have a character, a setting, a first paragraph… but what happens next?

Whether you write plot or character-driven stories, short fiction or novels, readers want to invest in characters trying to solve a problem. This is sometimes called “conflict”, but what does that mean, and how is it brought to life in a work of fiction? In this generative 3-hour class, we will discuss various kinds of “story-worthy” problems and we’ll practice techniques for discovering and creating truly vexing conflicts and situations that can carry a story’s plot from beginning to end.

Chaitali Sen is the author of the novel The Pathless Sky (Europa Editions, 2015) and short stories and essays which have appeared in Boulevard, Colorado Review, Ecotone, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, New England Review, Shenandoah, and other publications. Her story collection A New Race of Men from Heaven was selected by Danielle Evans as the winner of the 2021 Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction and is forthcoming from Sarabande Books in January 2023. The Pathless Sky was a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best First Fiction, and included on Idra Novey’s Buzzfeed list “10 Books That Challenge Our Political Landscape by Inventing New Ones,” Library Journal’s “Top Fall Indie Fiction,” and Mic.com’s “25 Essential Reads to Make Women’s History Last Longer than a Month.” She holds an MFA in Fiction from Hunter College and lives in Central Texas.


“Developing Authentic and Compelling Characters in Fiction” with John Pipkin

Saturday, April 1, 2023, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT

Characters are the most important part of any story.

Creating fictional characters (or even characters based on real people) requires a balance between the unusual quirks that make a character compelling, and the realistic, ordinary details that make a character believable.

This class will examine strategies and writing exercises for developing your characters in a way that will keep readers engaged with your story. Sometimes, the most important aspects of a character are the things that happen off the page, the interests and impulses that that character would be pursuing if they didn’t have to be engaged in the plot that you’ve thrown them into. So, before you can get a reader to believe in and care about your characters, you need to get to know them yourself.

John Pipkin is the Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas-Austin and also teaches in the low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University. Originally from Baltimore, he holds a Ph.D. in 19th-century British Literature and is the author of the critically-acclaimed novels: Woodsburner (Nan A Talese/Doubleday 2009) which won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter (Bloomsbury 2016). He has received fellowships to MacDowell, Yaddo, Dobie-Paisano, and the Gullkistan Center for Creativity in Iceland. He is also the recipient of the 2021 Harry Ransom Award for Excellence in Teaching at UT-Austin.


Jessica Wilbanks headshot“Closing the Circle: Writing Endings in Fiction” with Jessica Wilbanks

Saturday, April 22, 2023, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT

The most satisfying endings in novels and stories simultaneously tie up loose ends while opening up a new layer of meaning. But how do writers deliver on these contradictory impulses?

In this class, we’ll take a close look at how different writers leverage images, patterns, and plot structure to arrive at an ending that simultaneously resolves and expands the narrative. We’ll also talk about expectations for endings across various genres, how to avoid overly contrived endings, and how the seeds of an effective ending are often found in the beginning of a narrative.

Jessica Wilbanks is the author of When I Spoke in Tongues, a memoir about faith and its loss. She has received a Pushcart Prize as well as creative nonfiction awards from Ninth Letter, Sycamore Review, Redivider, and Ruminate magazine. Her essays have received Notable Mentions in Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading, and she was selected as a finalist for the PEN annual Literary Award in Journalism. Jessica received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Houston, where she served as nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast.

Instructors

Diane ZinnaDiane Zinna is the author of THE ALL-NIGHT SUN (Random House, 2020) which was longlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Cabell First Novelist Award. Her craft book, LETTING GRIEF SPEAK, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press. She received her MFA from the University of Florida and was the longtime membership director for AWP, The Association of Writers & Writing Programs. There, she created the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, helping to match more than six hundred writers over twelve seasons. She was most recently the Darden Professor of Creative Writing at Old Dominion University, and she is the creator of Grief Writing Sundays, a popular writing class on telling difficult stories that has met every week since the start of the pandemic. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming at Electric Literature, LiteraryHub, Brevity, Monkeybicycle, and Eat, Darling, Eat. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband, daughter, and doodle.
Chaitali Sen is the author of the novel The Pathless Sky and the story collection A New Race of Men from Heaven, chosen by Danielle Evans as the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and one of Kirkus Reviews' 100 Best Fiction Books of 2023. Her stories and essays have been published by American Short Fiction, Boulevard, Catapult, Colorado Review, Ecotone, and many other publications. She holds an MFA from Hunter College - City University of New York, and currently lives in Central Texas.
John Pipkin is the Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at UT-Austin, where he has won several teaching awards. Originally from Baltimore, he received a Ph.D. in English from Rice University. His first novel, Woodsburner (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday 2009) won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Massachusetts Center for the Book Novel Prize, and the Texas Institute of Letters Stephen Turner Prize. His second novel, The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter (Bloomsbury 2016) was named Book of the Month by The London Times. John has received fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, Dobie-Paisano, and the Harry Ransom Center.
Jessica Wilbanks is the author of When I Spoke in Tongues, a memoir about faith and its loss. She has received a Pushcart Prize as well as creative nonfiction awards from Ninth Letter, Sycamore Review, Redivider, and Ruminate magazine. Her essays have received Notable Mentions in Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading, and she was selected as a finalist for the PEN Annual Literary Award in Journalism. Jessica received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Houston, where she served as nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast. She lives in Houston and is currently working on a novel.

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click here for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it. If you prefer this option, please email wlt@writersleague.org with a copy of the form as well to ensure we add you to the class roster as soon as possible.

Expecting to see the member price, but it’s not appearing?

Confirm you are logged into your account first and foremost. The member price will only appear when you are logged into your account and have an active membership on file. If you are having trouble accessing your account, please email member@writersleague.org and explain the situation.

Class & Event Registration Policy

Once a purchase has been made, registrations are not refundable and cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a registration and then find you cannot attend the class or event, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at wlt@writersleague.org and let us know the name and contact information for the person who will be using the registration so that we can update the class or event roster.

Credit Card Transaction Handling Fee Policy

All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee. If you’d prefer to pay by check for membership, a class, or an event, you can use the provided forms on the membership or event pages and mail to: WLT, P.O. Box 14355, Austin, TX, 78704.

HOW WLT CLASSES WORK:

Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.

If you haven’t taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to email the WLT staff at wlt@writersleague.org if you’d like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.

HOW ONLINE CLASSES WORK:

Once you register for the class, you’ll receive an email with detailed instructions no later than 48 hours before the class date. You should expect 2-2.5 hours of direct teaching and 30 minutes of Q&A (for three hours total). If you need to leave the class early or can’t attend the class on that date, all registrants will have access to the recording for one month after the class date. No microphone or camera required, just an Internet connection capable of streaming video. All online classes are hosted on Zoom. To learn more about how Zoom works, click HERE. 

Plan to log in to the online platform an hour before the class so that you can update your software or any other settings required to access the platform. (Updates usually only take a few minutes, but you don’t want to wait until the beginning of class.) Questions? Email us at wlt@writersleague.org.

Cultural Arts City of Austin

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.

Texas Commission on the Arts

Writers’ League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts – Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to www.arts.texas.gov.

National Endowment for the Arts

This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

Mid-America Arts Alliance

This project is supported in part by the Mid-America Arts Alliance. For more information, go to www.maaa.org.

Details

Start:
March 11, 2023 10:00 AM CST
End:
April 22, 2023 1:00 PM CST
Cost:
$236.00 – $476.00
Event Categories:
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Venue

Online via Zoom